September 09, 2009

2 for 1 Special - (RWP Prompt #91)

This week's Read Write Poem prompt was a tricky one for me... quite complex and involved some soul searching. I composed two separate pieces, the first was to describe something I never wanted to forget and was to encompass smell...!


Disinfectant cannot contain
the slaughterhouse odor of blood,
sweat and amniotic fluid.
How can this death scent translate
into fresh beginnings?

I’m grabbing at hands,
my tearful husband to hold me,
awaken me from this nightmare
of never ending pain, that
rends me trembling and nauseous.

Bay rum assaults my nose
as the doctor hovers over
cajoling me, "One more push".
How can he smile, breath so fresh,
when all hell is breaking loose?

Somehow I muster from deep inside
a last bit of strength,
a last bit of desire
to finish this, and finally see what
this world of trouble is about.

Rapidly materializing, a gush of
sudden slippery releasing.
Exhaustion finds me full of
achievement and extreme relief
as I hear crying not my own.

My child, my daughter
thrust into this hard, cold life.
Dumped rudely on my breast,
to smell her newness, her
warm, fresh, beautiful existence.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This next piece is from the second part of the prompt - incorporating the photo below to write a "dream" piece about a memory I would like to forget.

(photo by Greg Fraser)

The Dream

Curled round the roots of
an ancient forest, under years of soil
and dry, crisp leaves,
lies the child, silently weeping.
Escaped to hide in this hushed grove,
this peaceful God place.
Damaged and alone,
Safer still than what was left behind.
But there is no cocoon here,
No true haven of security,
as the wildness comes closer,
screaming cruel insanity.

Why must destruction follow me,
nourished and dependent on my
bearing witness to it’s hateful dance?
I must run farther, I must soar free
from all unhappiness.
Through motes of light, the phoenix emerges,
coalescing gold and scarlet beauty,
with knowing eyes and
claws meant only to protect me.
I climb upon his armored back
holding tightly to his massive neck.
We are aloft, born away to safety.


  1. hi Cynthia, I like the disinfectant/blood/sweat combo of smells in 'Birthday' and I like the phoenix image in 'The Dream'..Enjoyed your response to the prompt.

  2. Thank you Cynthia for jumping starting my day. Your words got my brain thinking better than my latte. Have a great day. Julie

  3. Hi Cynthia,

    You're good at this! Two excellent poems. The first, reality; the agony and ecstacy of childbirth told with such vivid imagery.

    The second evokes an altogether different, ancient world with equally powerful images.

  4. The "slaughterhouse odor" coupled with death and life... (makes me realize when we give birth, our life before parenthood dies. Interesting....

    Thanks for some fine poetry this morning!

  5. Cynthia your child birth poem evokes a lot of memories The way the poem progressed from the
    pain to the joy at the end was very well done
    I admire anyone who can write a poem like this
    It's so vivid I just about fainted reading it.

  6. love the little bit of your humor showing: finally see what
    this world of trouble is about

  7. nicely done.....i really like what you have done with each image.....keep up the good writing Cynthia

  8. Cynthia,
    I agree with rallentanda. Your poems are very, very real, especially the imagery. It puts the reader right in the middle of the experience. Brilliant writing.

  9. I like how the speaker observes in "Birthday" that the stuff of life is the stuff of death, and how even though she is the most "preoccupied" and stressed, she also seems to be the only one fully conscious of what is happening. Shades in a new way of your poem last week about the performer.

    Again, in "Dream" I like the irony of oxymoron, how the speaker "nourishes" destruction; how in a Demeterish kind of way, the maternal encompasses more than just "spring" and "summer" but grief and loss as well.

  10. I love the softness of the transformation in the last two lines of the first poem.

    The second poem is magical. A threatening nightmare with a happy finish.

  11. I very much appreciate the way you depict the "miracle of birth" as contingent. We depend on the beautiful end of the process to cleanse the memory of the pain and gore and surgical steel and antiseptic. As a man, I've never given birth, but I was present for my second child's birth and delivered my third at home. I recognize the truth you depict here.

  12. I really like the contrast in "Birthday" between the first part of the poem and the last two stanzas.

  13. Searing poems paired and complementary -- one from the perspective of a mother in physical pain; another from the perspective of a child in emotional pain. Along with your other poem "New Mother," these poems could be the beginning of a chapbook. A chapbook on past-lives and present lives might be unique (I don't think I've seen one like it up to now).

  14. The flesh of "Birthday" reminded of why I rather like being a man and at the same envious of that "beautiful existence" of motherhood. "The Dream" left me contemplating the emotional pain one must have felt to "hide in this hushed grove." I believe you have bared your soul and I find beauty in your poetic expression.

  15. cynthia Birthday is aptly titled. enjoyed it from start to end, and what an ending it was. the blood, biological fluid, i know those birthing operating rooms, white in nature, crucifix with straps and stirrups center stage. you vivid language brings the red over white off the page.

    The Dream is quite the contrast on the other hand. a sanctuary and haven, that picture coupled with your imagery works well. the haze jumped at me the most, perhaps because of the deity reference? much to enjoy in both these pieces, keep your pen strong through the weekend cynthia. -lawrence

  16. Both poems are just beautiful.....the depth of feeling permeates.

    Thank you for visiting my blog a couple of weeks ago...I'm hoping to be more active with Read Write Poem in the future. I hope we can find each other & be friends there!

  17. finally see what
    this world of trouble is about.

    I love this realization of the new mother that the physical pain she's feeling in the moment is going to transform into many kinds of pain/trouble that come with the role of parent. Very nice work.